New game content for World of Warcraft is issued via a series of patches, released every 1 or 2 months. Patch 1.7, released on Sept 13, 2005, contained access to an area known as “Zul'Gurub”,2 which was intended for use by players whose characters had achieved a sufficient level within the game to be considered “relatively powerful”. The centrepiece of this area was a combative encounter with a powerful creature called “Hakkar” (figure 2). Occasionally, one of the players facing this massive winged serpent would be purposefully infected by a disease called “Corrupted Blood”. This infection, as intended, then rapidly began infecting other nearby players. To the powerful players who were battling Hakkar, the infection was just a hindrance, designed to make this particular combat more challenging. However, several aspects of the disease caused this minor inconvenience to blossom into an uncontrolled game-wide epidemic.3 The ability of many characters to transport themselves instantly from one location to another was the first factor in the game that unexpectedly set the stage for the plague. This type of travel is frequently used to return to the capital cities of the game's geography from more remote regions for reasons of game play. Many victims of Corrupted Blood thus reached heavily populated areas before either being killed by or cured of the disease, mimicking the travel of contagious carriers over long distances that has been the hallmark of many disease outbreaks in history—eg, the Mongol horde and the bubonic plague, or the cholera outbreaks of Europe during the mid-19th century.4 The highly contagious disease then spread to other players outside the intended, localised combat area near Hakkar.
Although highly contagious, the disease in World of Warcraft may very well have run its course naturally in a very short period of time. To the game's powerful players, the disease was no more threatening than the common cold in a healthy adult. Less powerful characters (who were never intended to enter Zul'Gurub or encounter the disease), died very quickly from its effects. With most of the susceptible portion of the population (the equivalent of children, elderly people, or the immunocompromised) already dead, and the living either leaving the urban centres to avoid infection, or temporarily leaving the game entirely (to wait for the software defect to be fixed), the density necessary for a sustained chain of infection should have dropped below the threshold needed to sustain the epidemic.
Unfortunately for players of the game, a last, seemingly unrelated factor, present since the origin of the game, allowed the outbreak to continue, turning the capital cities into death traps. Computer-controlled characters, such as shopkeepers and soldiers (called non-player characters), are necessary parts of the structure and function of the game. These characters are deliberately made very powerful, to prevent them from being victimised by players exhibiting homicidal tendencies and to prevent such incidents from disrupting the normal course of game play. During the epidemic, the non-player characters served as “asymptomatic” carriers capable of spreading the disease, creating a nearly unbreakable chain of infection between highly infectious non-player characters, player characters, and their pets. Also aiding in the continuation of the epidemic, a cycle involving the resurrection of weaker characters by those with healing abilities, saw the susceptible population continually replenished (only to be reinfected and die again).
Whereas the epidemic of Corrupted Blood within World of Warcraft was the result of unintended interactions between different elements of the game, it nevertheless shows the potential of such scenarios for the study of infectious disease. One of the major constraints in studies of disease dynamics in animals is that epidemiologists are restricted largely to observational and retrospective studies. In nearly every case, it is physically impossible, financially prohibitive, or morally reprehensible to create a controlled, empirical study where the parameters of the disease are already known before the course of epidemic spread is followed. At the same time, computer models, which allow for large-scale experimentation on virtual populations without such limitations, lack the variability and unexpected outcomes that arise from within the system, not by the nature of the disease, but by the nature of the hosts it infects.
Human-agent simulations, where the subjects are virtual but have their actions controlled by human beings interacting with each other, may potentially bridge the gap between real-world epidemiological studies and large-scale computer simulations. Since the influence of individual behavioural choice has been shown to greatly affect the range of societal outcomes in many fields including epidemiology,10 differences between the human-agent simulation and a pure computer simulation of the same disease, incorporating the vast complexity of human behaviour, rational or otherwise, could examine the effects of these behaviours on the course of an outbreak.
https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPd ... %2970212-8In the case of the Corrupted Blood epidemic, some players—those with healing abilities—were seen to rush towards areas where the disease was rapidly spreading, acting as first responders in an attempt to help their fellow players. Their behaviour may have actually extended the course of the epidemic and altered its dynamics—for example, by keeping infected individuals alive long enough for them to continue spreading the disease, and by becoming infected themselves and being highly contagious when they rushed to another area. Of course, this behaviour could also have greatly reduced the mortality from the disease in those they treated. Such behaviour and its effects would have been extremely difficult to capture accurately in a pure-computer model. Human response is, almost by definition, difficult to predict, requiring experiments on emotionally involved subjects to determine the proportion of the population likely to respond in various ways. This understanding would provide the groundwork for the examination of the effect of those behaviours on the system. The failure of the quarantine measure, similarly, could not have been accurately predicted by numerical methods alone, since it was driven by human decisions and behavioural choices. This ability to demonstrate unforeseen consequences of human actions within a statistically robust and controlled computer simulation is yet another benefit of such a system.
https://www.wowhead.com/news=311637/cor ... oronavirusIn the PC Gamer interview with now Dr. Eric Lofgren, he mentioned how his time researching and playing WoW has helped his work on COVID-19, mentioning parallels between Corrupted Blood and the Coronavirus. One of the most interesting parallels drawn by the researcher is how players were able to grief in-game by aiding on the spread of the disease - While people aren't intentionally getting others sick in real life, ignoring the disease's potential spread can be sort of considered a real-life version of griefing.
"To pull it back to a Corrupted Blood analogy, and something I've been thinking about—one of the critiques we got from a lot of people, both gamers and scientists, was over this idea of griefing," Dr. Lofgren says. "How griefing isn't really analogous to anything that takes place in the real world. People aren't intentionally getting people sick. And they might not be intentionally getting people sick, but wilfully ignoring your potential to get people sick is pretty close to that. You start to see people like 'oh this isn't a big deal, I'm not going to change my behavior. I'm going to the concert and then going to see my elderly grandma anyway.' Maybe don't do that. That's a big takeaway. Epidemics are a social problem... Minimizing the seriousness of something is sort of real-world griefing."
Κατ' αρχάς, το όλο θέμα μου θύμισε τον Μπαρούφ, που μελετούσε το ad-hoc οικονομικό μοντέλο του WoW ως ακαδημαϊκός και σύμβουλος της Blizzard - θέτοντας το ως μοντέλο για την δημιουργία εξ αρχής μιας ανταλλακτικής οικονομίας. Τελικά ίσως να ήταν πρωτοπόρος στο θέμα, καθότι όπως βλέπουμε, υπάρχουν και άλλοι που χρησιμοποιούν το παιχνίδι ως simulator πραγματικών καταστάσεων, εκτός της οικονομίας και στην επιδημιολογία.
- διαφωνώ ότι δεν νοείται griefing σε επιδημίες στον πραγματικό κόσμο. Τυπικό παράδειγμα το Bugchasing στην περίπτωση του HIV
- η επιδημία του corrupted blood σταμάτησε όταν η Blizzard διόρθωσε τελείως τον μηχανισμό της, ώστε να μην μεταδίδεται σε μεγάλο μέρος του πληθυσμού (pets στο WoW). Περαιτέρω, κρίσιμο ζήτημα είναι ότι για πλήρη αντιστοίχιση θα πρέπει να θεωρήσουμε ότι δεν υπάρχει ανοσία στον νέο ιό, πράγμα μάλλον απίθανο (δεν έχει ξεκαθαρίσει πλήρως αυτό). Σε κάθε περίπτωση πάντως, η επιδημία επέτρεψε την μελέτη μοντέλων διάδοσης της ασθένειας όπως επίσης και την παρατήρηση ότι συγκεκριμένοι servers, με προαγωγή συγκεκριμένων συμπεριφορών, επέτρεψαν τον έλεγχο της επιδημίας (αποφεύγοντας ευάλωτοι χαρακτήρες τις μεγάλες πόλεις - μετακίνηση των δυνατών χαρακτήρων προς starting zones αφού είχαν θεραπευτεί κτλ) ενώ σε άλλες περιπτώσεις η κατάσταση ήταν τόσο χαοτική που η Blizzard αναγκάστηκε να κάνει hard reset τους servers.